Mpumalanga municipalities urged to identify more grave sites

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Mpumalanga municipalities urged to identify more grave sites
EXIGENT: As the global Covid-19 pandemic surges on unabated, municipalities in Mpumalanga are preparing graves for mass burials. PICTURE BY IOL

The province says if people die in numbers then they should be ready to lay them to rest without problems of space for burial land.


Mpumalanga’s 17 local municipalities have been “requested” to identify more space for graves for possible Covid-19 mass deaths after winter.

The request from the Mpumalanga Covid-19 council was received as officials expect mass deaths between June and September 2020. 

In eMalahleni, the Covid-19 council has asked about the “existing capacity” to carry burials and the municipality has responded by saying they’d considered expanding the Kroomdraai Cemetery, the Pretoria Road Memorial Park as well as the Blesboklaagte Cemetery.

Municipal department of environmental services MMC Thabang Mathebula said the eMalahleni municipality has already identified a new cemetery in Blesboklaagte following the call last month to do so.

“It is currently undergoing phase 2 of its development, however as a municipality we have had alternative plans already to consider expanding the Kroomdraai Cemetery, Pretoria Road Memorial Park and Blesboklaagte and to develop new portions for cemeteries in Duvha, Phola and Kriel,” Mathebula said.

Last month, the South African Cemeteries Association (SACA) urged municipalities to plan ahead.

“Municipalities need to identify available graves in advance. If it is logistically impossible to bury huge numbers in single graves, then communal or mass graves must be prepared,” the association said.

September 2020 is said to be the month when the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths are expected to peak in South Africa, with more people getting admitted to hospitals than never before.

Bushbuckridge municipal spokesman Aubrey Mnisi said they have a space. He said they were urged to prepare for it in case there would be people who would need to be buried as scientists struggle to find a cure for the respiratory system germ that has infected millions of people worldwide.

This week Tuesday 6 May 2020 co-operative governance MEC Mandla Msibi told Mpumalanga News that they are expecting “a worse situation” and that is mainly due to people not adhering to Covid-19 regulations – the social distancing, washing of hands and wearing masks.

“If 5 000 people in Nkomazi for an example can be infected by the disease at a go, the funeral parlours will be overwhelmed by the demand. If you want to bury your own and in some cases, conduct some rituals before burying, that won’t be possible [as] we need to adapt to the new situation, hence we told municipalities to prepare such land for separate burials,” Msibi said.

Msibi said as government they “must begin to tell our people the truth”.

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“We are anticipating a worse situation, but we are still appealing to our people to adhere to the regulations, wash their hands clean with soap and water and sanitise them while also adhering to social distancing,“ he said.

Msibi said even if it means buying the land for the anticipated Covid-19 related mass deaths they will and have told the municipalities to do so.

“It will be graves for Covid-19. If you die of a car accident, that will be something else, you go to a normal grave. If a situation arises you die of Covid-19 you go [a] separate way to your grave. By June, Covid-19 deaths are expected to be at their peak,” he said.

(edited by ZK)

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